Laidlaw report suggests no answer to franchising dilemma

October 30th, 2012 Christian Says 15 comments
When ministers have digested the excellent Laidlaw report into the West Coast franchising fiasco, (at, there will be an awful grinding of teeth. It really does not seem to give a way out of the franchising dilemma and the question of 'what the hell do we do now' must hang in the air Laidlaw identifies a variety of factors that led to the collapse of the deal. He cites complexity, ...

Rail 700: Renationalisation never seems to go away

July 1st, 2012 Rail Magazine 10 comments
It’s amazing how much attention plans to renationalise the railways always attract. The latest suggestion came in a report produced by Transport for Quality of Life, Rebuilding Rail, and received considerable coverage in both press and broadcast media, including a big piece in The Observer and an appearance by both Phil Haigh and myself on BBC Breakfast. The reason is that nationalisation remains popular. The privatised railway companies have never managed ...

Rail 665: How the franchise lottery works

March 10th, 2011 Rail Magazine 5 comments
The franchise merry go round is starting again with the ridiculous short contract for East Anglia, and the longer term one for the West Coast, which, in contrast, is premium franchise on the network. The franchise process is a long and arduous one, and despite attempts to simplify it, there are already complaints from bidders about the obstacles they face. In order to familiarise myself with how a franchise bid is ...

Rail 648: Cuts are now the only game in town

July 21st, 2010 Rail Magazine 10 comments
The search for about £1-1.5bn cuts to the rail industry is now on. That’s broadly the amount that will need to be taken out of the industry – which currently turns over around £11bn, £5bn of which comes from the government. Assuming that transport has to take a bit more than its fair share, it always does, even if rail bears less than other modes, we are still talking of ...

A 22 year franchise for FCC?

February 2nd, 2010 Christian Says 6 comments
The confusion over franchising policy could not be better highlighted by the mixed messages coming from ministers. On the one hand we have quite explicit threats suggesting that the government could take back the First Capital Connect franchise because of months of dire performance on the Thameslink line - why did they ever change the name? - while on the other we have Lord Adonis suggesting that longer franchises are ...

Rail 636: Tory and Labour policies converging

January 26th, 2010 Rail Magazine 9 comments
Theresa Villiers, the shadow transport secretary, has done her homework and come up with a well-informed speech about the Tories plans for the railways. Given to a political thinktank, Politeia, earlier this month, the speech contained nothing startlingly new but fleshed out details of Tory intentions if they are elected.   The centrepiece was, of course, support for a north-south high speed line, about which more below, but there was also some ...

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